Saturday, May 17, 2008

NY vs. Vegas - Part 1

(Originally posted on May 2, 2007)

Why do people come from all over the country, and the world to Las Vegas? Here's some of my insights...

Native New Yorker

Most folks aren't from Las Vegas. Personally, I'm from New York. When you say you're from NY to a NY'er - they say, "Where?" They don't just say it once, it's more like 10 times. Let me show you...

Me: I'm from New York.
NYer: Where?
Me: The city.
NYer: Where?
Me: Queens.
NYer: Where?
Me: Bayside.
NYer: Where?
Me: 204th and 14th.
NYer: I gotta sista usta live by da Frogs Neck Bridge.

If you're from NY, you've had the above conversation endless times here in Vegas. New Yorkers flock here, and with good reason(s). We've got everything NY has and doesn't have. Well, if you ask my wife, she'd argue strongly against that.

You see, when you move from New York to Las Vegas, it's an unwritten rule that one person will miss New York too much to enjoy life here. Folks, that's not me. Although I love NY (to visit), Las Vegas is my home. For my wife, she has to fly back every few months to get her fix. In fact, we just came back from NY three weeks ago. To drive my point home of what I don't miss, the entire trip was centered around the weather.

The Jet Blues

In the seven plus years we've been in Vegas, there have been a few airlines that cater to the NY to Vegas crowd. We had National Airlines - which made hot chocolate chip cookies mid-flight. They went under. Now we have Jet Blue. I love Jet Blue. How can you dislike an airline that gives your own TV to watch with DirecTv programming and your own remote!?!?!

Unfortunately, Jet Blue had a PR nightmare this winter and stranded way too many folks for way too long. If I were stuck in a plane for 13 hours on the runway, I think you'd be reading about me in the newspapers (and not in a good way.) As a result, at the slightest chance of a delay, especially due to weather, Jet Blue cancels every plane on their roster.

As luck would have it, we flew back east during the Nor'easter of 2007. We were in NY for 4 days and it rained every day but one. Not a drizzle mind you, but I thought for sure I saw Noah's Ark in the distance. The conversation every day was, "Should we leave early?" "Will we get stuck here?" "Let's leave tonight." "Let's leave now." "We should have left yesterday!" Not fun. The entire trip revolved around the weather.

The only good news is that we're pretty savvy as former New Yorkers. We knew it was going to rain there, so we packed some Totes umbrellas. You see, when it's sunny in NY, umbrellas are $3.00. The minute it starts to rain, the price goes up to $20, and they're sold out! Talk about supply and demand.

My point is that Las Vegas has got 99% good weather all the time. No hurricanes, no tornados, no earthquakes (yet), little rain, little humidity, just mostly heat - and that's really just 3 months out of the year. So weather is a big factor here.

Are you hungry?

If there was one subject we talked about more than the weather, it was food. In a nutshell, New York is food. All my wife talks about is the food in New York, and she's right. But we're always on diets here, so can you imagine how big we'd be if were back in New York?

We ate our way through New York every day. I gained a few pounds, and my pants are too short now, but it was worth it. Does that mean we don't have NY food in Vegas? Not at all. Almost everything you could want is here, if you look hard enough and talk to enough people.

Let me break it down for you. There's four main food groups in NY - Italian (including pizza), Jewish (deli's), Greek and Chinese. Remember, New York was the original melting pot, so we've got every kind of food imaginable.

I won't go into the trendy spots of Las Vegas - Vegas excels in steak houses, nightclubs, and Pan Asian fusion - not to mention sushi. If you love sushi, you will love Las Vegas.

I'm talking about comfort food in NY. Hole in the wall places that have questionable sanitary guidelines, but the best food ever. New York has diners (that's a noun, not a verb.) A diner is open 24 hours and their menus have more pages than the phone book. Invariably, two minutes after you sit down, the waitress is there to take your order. God forbid you ask her to come back - you won't see her for a half hour. You're being punished. That's NY attitude, and it's not on the menu.

The closest thing to a diner in Las Vegas is IHOP, and that's as close as Vegas is to the Pacific. Not to say there aren't "diners" here, but they're like Disneyland diners - they "look" like a diner, but the folks are just making believe inside. Readers, if you can enlighten me on a good diner in Vegas, I'm all ears.

Las Vegas has really turned into the ultimate melting pot, with folks from everywhere. I think there are more languages spoken here than in the UN. And almost everyone speaks English. What's up with that? I took Spanish for 7 years in school and can't say more than "Me llamo Marcos." I give people a lot of credit for their communication skills, and envy those who are bilingual, trilingual or more. But I've digressed - back to food.

To be continued...

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